Everyone knows that the absolute priority when installing your residential, commercial, or agricultural solar power system that efficiency and exposure to sunlight must be the absolute priority. A poorly installed system may not face fully in the most effective direction, have done little to address shade-causing objects and structures, or have omitted the possibility of using batteries to store excess power to enable 24-hour total or supplementary energy supply.

Solar panels which can automatically track the axis of the sun throughout the day have long been especially popular with agricultural users and on solar energy farms. Thanks to reduced unit costs and several federal and state incentives/discounts for those interested in taking control over their energy consumption by going solar, these are now a realistic proposition for residential and commercial owners. But are they worth that considerably more substantial upfront cost?

Tracker Solar panels & How They Work

Tracker solar panels are programmed to automatically follow the sun at a precise angle so that the sunlights lands consistently perpendicular to the angle of the panel. This is absolutely crucial to their effective use – and why users who opt for this style of solar panel should expect to harvest a substantial additional yield. Unlike static panels which simply have to be carefully placed by experts to maximize their exposure to sunlight over daytime periods, trackers can constantly be working to cultivate as much energy production as possible.

Single-axis and dual-axis solar panels both have their merits although for people who are looking to enhance their power generation throughout the year (instead of enjoying just the maximum during set months) the latter is the better option. Make sure that you employ a high quality and experienced installation team who understand how best to place these. Assuming that you have adequate space (almost all tracker panels are ground-mounted)  you should realistically anticipate somewhere between a 25-35% increase in efficiency compared to static solar panels. Your installation team will be able to provide a more precise figure that matches the layout of your individual solar network.

Is The Higher Panel Price Worth The Investment?

The key financial factor when installing a solar energy system of any kind is how soon it will be able to ‘payback’ the installation costs (including tax, labor, maintenance, etc). For this reason, we always suggest that people understand that solar power tends to reward investment. More modern panels are far more efficient compared to those produced 5-10 years ago and you should look for around a 25-40% improvement in yield by the quality of the panels alone. Thanks to the market being quite crowded with both panel manufacturers and installation companies, you can find excellent value on the latest panels providing you shop around.

One well known (but little discussed) truth in the solar industry is that the nationwide companies are typically thousands of dollars more expensive than smaller contractors – with the added problem that many are tied into contracts to exclusively supply outdated and less efficient equipment. It is highly recommended that those interested in establishing their own solar power network take the time to understand how it works before just opting for a big/popular name who may well provide a pretty low standard overall service. Smaller contractors offer better service which will be tailored to your needs at considerably lower prices.

Anyone looking to spend that little extra on superior tracking solar panels should take advantage of the previously mentioned incentives as soon as possible. We’d be the last people to suggest people jump into as big a decision as going solar, but those incentives are now entering their last phases and starting to depreciate in value. If you are looking to purchase a network of high quality (and high ticket price) panels remember that the discount applies to all kinds of panels and can represent an excellent opportunity for those heading upmarket to make some excellent savings.

Final Thoughts

Weighing up whether you will reap considerably more energy using a tracking system really is a no-brainer. You will enjoy better energy harvests by employing these modern panels, assuming they are high quality and correctly installed. Make sure to consult with your contractors first – and collect quotations for both the installation work and the panels themselves.

Providing you have the space to work with we would suggest ground-mounted solar panels ahead of any other system for residential or commercial practices. Those who do not have the spare space or are constricted in their options by local land usage laws should look towards more traditional rooftop options. Once again, the quality is going to make all the difference between whether you can pay off your installations fees within just a few years – and enjoy decades of ‘free energy’ or if you break even after fifteen years. Solar power itself is a no-brainer when it comes to long term savings, but how much you actually end up saving depends almost entirely on your selected options and panels right at the beginning of the process.

By Richard